SBJ/May 15-21, 2017/People and Pop Culture

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  • Plugged In: Elena Bergeron, SB Nation

    This year has already been marked by major change for SB Nation, Vox Media’s sports media outlet. As part of a larger leadership shift, the company in March named Elena Bergeron editor-in-chief of the growing portfolio that includes the flagship, more than 300 team sites and five sites devoted to mixed martial arts and combat sports. Bergeron is helping lead a revamping of each of those sites and an expansion of video content for SB Nation, which now operates under a new tagline of “Come Fan With Us.”

    We’re able to produce all sorts of content that reflects the pact we have with sports fans as an independent brand. There’s no overlord dictating how we cover sports.


    On operating a sports media outlet without a linear TV component: There are limitations to not having that major linear deal, the ability to quickly and legally use game footage being primary. But overall, I love not having boundaries set on what we can riff on or what we can investigate or do enterprise reporting on. It really keeps us producing content from the perspective of true fans.

    On connecting with younger audiences: We’re constantly thinking about how the same piece of news needs to be presented differently in text-based formats versus what we’d do on Snapchat or Instagram Stories or Facebook video. We still need to tell good stories and spotlight cool stuff. That’s not new. What’s new is understanding what users want from each platform.

    On the rise of women in sports media: I see it continuing. Whether it’s the success of Libby Geist or Alison Overholt over at ESPN or Erika Nardini at Barstool, I’m hoping that a rising tide lifts all boats and that there is a steady stream of women being considered for leadership opportunities at all outlets. Beyond that, I hope their success helps vary the coverage and convinces different outlets to consider the audience of sports fans less monolithically.

    On the most underreported story in sports: Anything involving the future of the IOC. The Olympics are massive tentpole events that are supposed to be a celebration of human achievement. But the infrastructure around those events is deeply flawed. Reporting on it should be a 24/7 beat, but the cost of covering an international story with lots of political, financial and science-related implications is prohibitively difficult for most outlets.

    — Eric Fisher

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  • People: Executive transactions


    Minor League Baseball named Bill Smith assistant to the President and Chief Executive Officer, Pat O’Conner. Smith was formerly general manager for the Minnesota Twins.

    Larry Bird, president of basketball operations for the Indiana Pacers, stepped down from his position; Kevin Pritchard was promoted to fill Bird’s position. Bird will remain with the team in an advisory role.

    The Los Angeles Sparks promoted Danita Johnson to senior vice president, and hired Christy Calvin as director of public relations and communications and Danelle Winfield as director of game operations.

    Baylor University hired Mitch Mann as associate athletic director for resource development, Jovan Overshown as associate athletic director for engagement, Andrew Lentz as associate athletic director for branding and creative services, Ryan Eklund as assistant athletic director for fan engagement, Taylor Bryan as an associate director in athletics communications, Cody Gougler as assistant athletic director for the annual fund in the Baylor Bear Foundation and Matthew Brandsema as an assistant director in the ticket sales center.

    Boston College named Martin Jarmond athletic director. Jarmond was deputy athletic director and chief of staff for Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith.

    James Madison University hired Justin Jannuzzi as senior associate athletic director for development. Jannuzzi was senior director of major gifts at Duke University.

    University of Illinois at Chicago Athletic Director Jim Schmidt will retire from the position, effective Aug. 1, 2017, after 22 years in that position.

    Oklahoma State University hired Chad Weiberg as deputy athletic director. Weiberg was deputy athletic director at Texas Tech University.

    Southern Utah University promoted Andrew Parrish to deputy athletic director.

    Texas Tech University hired Greg Glaus as senior associate athletic director for academic services. Glaus was senior associate athletic director at Kent State University.

    The San Francisco 49ers hired Patricia Ernstrom as vice president of special events and executive director for the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship Host Committee. Ernstrom was executive director for the San Jose Sports Authority.

    The Outback Bowl named Todd Buchanan chairman of the board of directors, Todd Timmerman vice chair, Tim Love vice chair of Pinellas County, Troy Atlas vice chair of Hillsborough County, Greg Orchard treasurer and Rita Lowman secretary. Jason Altmire was also named to the board of directors.

    The Farmers Insurance Open and Century Club of San Diego hired Gema Deleon as senior manager of marketing and public relations. Gema was marketing manager for Fox Sports San Diego.

    The Los Angeles Kings hired Ryan Todd as a producer and editor.

    GMR Marketing promoted Jeremy Gomez to vice president of client services.

    Legacy Marketing hired Nate Stillman as vice president of business development. Stillman was a partner and executive vice president of strategic partnerships for Sporttu.

    Independent Sports and Entertainment hired Lucinda Treat as executive vice president and general counsel. Treat was executive vice president and chief legal and administrative officer for Revlon.

    Learfield hired Gil Beverly as vice president of the West region and Jack Patterson as vice president of social media. Shawn Kuzmin was named general manager for its Hurricane Sports Properties at the University of Miami, Tony Kountz hired as general manager for its NKU Norse Sports Properties at Northern Kentucky University and Kyle Winchester named general manager for its Wolfpack Sports Properties at North Carolina State University. Kuzmin was CEO and limited partner for Steven Brothers Sports Management, Kountz was senior director of business development for Kentucky Speedway, and Winchester was general manager for USF IMG Sports Marketing at the University of South Florida.

    Topnotch Management hired Michael McKenna as director of golf and Laura Marttinen as digital marketing and design manager.

    United Cities Productions hired David Collins as a company business strategist for its statewide content production company.

    Fox Networks Group hired Derek Murphy and Greg Stangel senior vice presidents of global solutions for advertising sales. Murphy was principal and strategic adviser for 31 Ventures, and Stangel was a senior member of the global sports property team for CAA Sports.

    GoVision hired Todd Wickstrum as vice president of design and engineering.

    Multiteam Companies
    AMB Sports and Entertainment promoted Tameka Rish to vice president of partnership services, Rob Geoffroy to senior vice president and chief financial officer, Spencer Treadwell to vice president of operations and Jared Miller to senior vice president of analytics and technology and chief digital officer.

    USA Hockey promoted Pat Kelleher to executive director.

    DTI Management hired Lee Shenker as president. Shenker was vice president and general counsel for ASC Ticket Co.

    Baseball Factory promoted Justin Roswell to vice president for its tournament division, and hired Jim Darby as a special consultant.

    BHSC Global formed BHSC Global Properties and named Jeff Plush to run the division. Plush was formerly commissioner for the National Women’s Soccer League.

    McGowan Insurance acquired Britton Gallagher’s Professional Athletes and Entertainers Program and added PAE executives Jim Convertino and Jani Memorich.

    Prevent Advisors, Oak View Group’s security and counter-terrorism consulting firm for the sports and entertainment industries, hired Michael Downing as executive vice president of security. Downing is formerly deputy chief for the Los Angeles Police Department and a law enforcement and counter-terrorism expert. Michael Rodriguez, U.S. Tennis Association and U.S. Open Tennis Championships director of security, and Mark Camillo, ex-Secret Service agent, joined the firm as board members.

    People news
    To have your personnel announcements included in the People section, please send information and photos to Brandon McClung at 120 W. Morehead St., Suite 310, Charlotte, NC 28202, or email them to Electronic photos must be a jpg or tiff file for Macintosh, 2.25 inches wide at 300 dpi. Color only, please. News items may also be sent via fax to (704) 973-1401. If you have questions, call (704) 973-1425.

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  • Faces and Places at the Derby

    The horses and the jockeys are the athletes to watch on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs, but plenty of other athletes, as well as other sports business types, fill the old track to cheer on their picks and perhaps cash a few tickets. Here’s a sampling of those who were in Louisville for the 143rd running.

    Tom Brady and the New England Patriots show some style at the Barnstable Brown Derby Eve Gala.
    Photo by: GETTYI IMAGES
    PGA Tour golfer Justin Rose and wife Kate
    Wes Henderson of Angel’s Envy bourbon, owned by Derby sponsor Bacardi
    Dallas Cowboy Jason Witten and wife Michelle
    Shep Murphy and Ian Murphy, owners of Derby sponsor Vineyard Vines
    Radegen’s Alex Radetsky and Leverage’s Ben Sturner put together a Skechers sponsorship with jockey Victor Espinoza and David Ortiz.
    Celebrity chef Bobby Flay cooked for customers of Derby sponsor Sentient Jet on Derby morning at 21c Museum Hotel.
    PGA Tour golfer Rickie Fowler
    Rain failed to dampen spirits, but it did a thorough job on the track as Always Dreaming slogged to victory.
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES

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